My 30 Day Social Media Experiment

For a good while, I’ve tried to embrace the love/hate relationship that I have developed with social media.

I love the way it connects us to people we aren’t physically close to, and I love how we can encourage and inspire others by sharing our stories and experiences. I love how it helps us find an apartment or a yoga studio or a good networking opportunity. I love the way we have a handheld way to chronicle our lives through photographs and paragraphs and share these memories with those who want to be a part of our journey through the screen and scroll.

Yet I hate the scroll. I hate the comparison trap. I hate the divisiveness. I hate the hatred.

We take our selfies when we’re at our best and post them for others to see when they are in potentially their worst. We showcase our new stuff and our big houses and our vacations and our family memories and our sporting events and our flowers and our jewelry and our cars and then press the home button to get back to real life.

We hop from one app to the other, scrolling for something new that gets our attention. What comment threads can we read? What assumptions can we make about people by reading their thoughts in a heated online argument (because even if you don’t think you will, you are.) and do we comment also?

I find myself taking photos of my kids, and thinking they must be posted right away (because I’ll forget, of course). And then I spend a few minutes thinking about the caption, and if it needs hashtags, and should I do only hashtags or a caption, too? Should I include their names in the hashtag?…

Then the little red numbers start popping up on the icon on my phone. Someone liked my picture. {smile and heart swell}. They commented. Do I comment back? Sometimes I try, but sometimes I just don’t want to. Is that rude? Oh, another comment – this is so flattering! People think my kids are just as amazing as I do.

Maybe I will just take the app off my phone and that way I can only see Facebook if I go to the website. And turn off the notifications so that there are no distracting red numbers in circles.

But what if I just don’t look at all. (Well, with the exception of monitoring business pages for my job once a day, which I will explain later…). But what if I just don’t Facebook at all, for 30 days. What would that look like?

Most of you probably don’t know this about me, but I am incredibly sensitive and feel things around me much differently than you most likely do. (If you are a “feeler” like me, lets chat because I am always looking to build my tribe with those who get it.) Through the lens of social media, I am able to discern in others: pain, joy, authenticity, rage, fear, dishonesty and thankfully, love. But it’s heavy. I’ve wondered what it would be like to just cut off social media altogether. But then, I discover a fantastic new restaurant to take my family to by a Facebook share. It’s tough, I know.

So, for me personally, I am ready to do something about it. I’m off Facebook–a test with a strategy coming alive as my fingers strike these keys. Here’s my plan:

  1. Starting right this minute and for the next thirty days, I will not use Facebook for personal reasons*. I have already deleted the app from my phone.
  2. Because my job requires me to monitor the digital presence of our apartment communities, I will view each business page once per day and will only be on Facebook for this purpose. (Don’t worry SPG, my duties will not slack by way of this experiment!)
  3. I will continue to take pictures of my kids and life as it happens, and at the end of the thirty days, I will share the good ones, sort of as the comic strip of our summer. I appreciate that many of you truly love seeing our photos – we’ve got family all over the country and watching our girls grow up online is a blessing that I am grateful for.
  4. In the time I’ve now gained in my day, I will spend it living more in the moment, and less in the story. I’m gonna time block specific times in my day to check Facebook for work, and to check email.
  5. I’m gonna spend my downtime filling out paperwork and reading books to finish my doula certification because God’s answered my prayer and that’s just what I’m supposed to do. Thinking back on those hours when I served those three different mamas, in three different stages of their journey, and the joy I truly felt deep into my core. I won’t ever forget the way that felt. And God will make a way for me to doula for mothers while working in my current role, too. I feel it in my bones.
  6. Lastly, anytime I take a picture of the girls and normally would have posted it to Facebook or IG, I’m going to email it to them instead. I set up email addresses for each of the girls when they were born and I honestly don’t send them stuff as much as I could. Instead of posting to FB or IG over the next 30, I can send them their own personal captions along with the video or pic. I imagine how cool it will be for Sadler to turn 14 and find out she has an email account full of emails from the last decade of her life. (I would have loved this!)..her own digital scrapbook from her mama’s perspective (and anyone else who emails her – that’s the beauty of it, her grandparents and daddy and cousins and family friends who have her email address can send her things, too.) This has been one of my biggest parenting wins and I’ve patted myself on the back a couple of times for setting it up, I just need a pat on the butt to keep it moving along! So hopefully this experiment will light a spark to send more emails to my little ladies.

I’m excited about this. I hope I’ve inspired someone to take a break, too.

Optimistic this downtime from social media will allow me to be more present. (I plan to disconnect from Instagram, too. I deleted it from my phone.) I hope this downtime will allow me to be more sensitive to God’s purpose for me. To center me and reset me and desensitize me from the junk of the world.

Expect a followup post about my journey through this experiment. Namaste, y’all.

*Sadler’s birthday is coming up very soon and we will use Facebook as our source of invitation. Friends and family that normally get those from us, look for that to come from Reid most likely 😉

Happy Mother’s Day

Life is profound. I’ve found myself using the word profound a lot lately. It perfectly describes too many situations for us these days.

Like the other night when Reid and I were fighting and everything around the room felt tense and impossible, my Amazon radio station that randomly shuffles over 200 songs, played 7 songs in a row that happen to be my favorite worship songs. They’re my favorites because for they’ve each spoken to my heart one or more times and I’m moved even still when I hear them. There are no coincidences in this life. God had my back (and my heart) in those moments.

Like the profound difference in my day I’ve noticed if I start it early. And in a place of praise and prayer. If I spend a few minutes outside inhaling Spring and watching the sun peek over the tops of the trees. If I read my Bible. If I journal. If I meditate. If I’m still. Those days — those days are different. Those days pay off for me and have a profound effect on what happens as the day goes on. On mornings when I rush through and get too wrapped up in my self, I lose my footing. I raise my voice. I cry.

When I started to see my prayers be answered, I had a profound sense of trust in God envelop me. When I hear the Holy Spirit tell me how to specifically pray for challenges I may be facing, I obey. I’ve seen a profound difference in my ratio of answered prayers to unanswered prayers from speaking my prayers out loud. Every morning in the shower, I talk to God. I thank him for giving me another morning. For the breath I just took and for the opportunity to be alive another day. I pray fervently for my husband. For my children. For the people in my life who I know are hurting. For healing. For comfort. For discernment. For wisdom. For strength. For JOY to fill my cup.

I’ve prayed for brokenhearted friends. I’ve prayed for strangers. I’ve prayed for broken marriages. I’ve prayed against generational curses and decades of sin and shame and unforgiveness that so many of us are suffering through. I’ve prayed for God to show me my spiritual gifts and how to use them. And I’ve prayed for those who need salvation to hear the gospel before this all ends.

I’ve prayed that I can see others as God sees them, and to just love no matter what. I’ve prayed that those around me could do the same.

God’s been doing profound work in our lives.

But yesterday, I had a moment with Everly that may take the cake. Reid and Sadler were out shopping for Mother’s Day gifts, and we were in Everly’s room putting away laundry. She was playing with her doll and spinning around and singing. And all of a sudden she stopped and asked me to open her PlayDo. And as I watched her from the rocking chair, it hit me. The profound realization that my baby was no longer a baby. But bigger than that, we were done having babies.

I’d rocked my last to sleep.

No more Onesies. Or diapers.

No more breastfeeding…

After 29 months, she finally weaned. We were finished nursing. The “boombas” have been given back to mommy.

The profound realization that I had seen the last of mothering a baby. I began to weep. I immediately grabbed her, picked her up and held her tight. I sat in the rocker as she fought me to get down. I asked her to please let me hold her, for just one minute as we rocked. She reached up and grabbed my face and said, “Mommy, are you OK?”

I lost it. My baby just asked me a question in a complete sentence. I sobbed and sobbed and kissed her and it seemed that every blinking moment with my babies that I have ever had passed through my lens. I saw all the good moments, all the challenging moments, all the times when I thought parenting couldn’t be any harder. All the times when I felt less engaged that I could have been, or the times I was frustrated and wished myself anywhere but in that given moment.

I didn’t want to put her down. What was only about 5 minutes seemed as long as two nap times. I imagined every afternoon I had in that rocking chair with her, burying my face in her neck as she drifted off to sleep. I remembered the evening standing in the laundry room, when I was about 6 months pregnant with her, that I told Reid we had made a mistake bringing another child into the world. That our marriage wasn’t strong enough and that it would be unfair for her to come into the world.

Little did I know that giving birth to her would be the start of a journey I’d been viewing from the sidelines. I didn’t get in the game with my spirituality until she was born. That in her two short years here, our marriage would crumble and then strengthen. God has had his hand on our marriage. Realizing and seeing and trusting that has been profound.

Motherhood started for me with a scapula and lots of tugging and pulling. That was how Sadler came along Earth side. With Everly, it was different. She blessed me with the ultimate gift of motherhood being born vaginally. She opened something spiritual within me and awakened my soul. And what a profound blessing from God she is.

These girls are amazing wonders to me. I look at them in deep, profound wonder on most days. But it will never be enough. Parenting is hard, and it’s easy to think you aren’t doing it good enough when there is a giant comparison trap in society. I’d rather they have good hearts than snobby attitudes. I’d rather they be giving than selfish, and I’d rather they be kind than cruel. I pray they always see the good in people and that they will find their passions and what calls them. I pray they will live. I pray they will love. I pray that Reid and I can speak life into them every day that they are breathing, and I pray that they will grow up to be the best of friends.

I’ve got a profound gratitude for all of the mothers out there. Mothers make new mothers, and even if it’s the hardest job we’ll ever love, motherhood should be cherished. When the days seem harder than they should, and nothing goes the way we’d planned, may we all just surrender and thank God he gave us the chance to be a mother in the first place.

Happy Birthday. Welcome to Now.

One year ago yesterday, I shared my very first blog post on this site. I actually bought this laptop for the sole purpose of starting this blog.

It wasn’t the first time I had written on the internet; I had a Tumblr account that I piddled with once-upon-a-time. But, when this site was born last February, it was different.

I’d been pulled in a direction that led me to write again, but this time, it’d be different. I had recently made the decision to leave my career to stay at home and be a mom. I felt God telling me to be patient and not to worry, but to slow down. I knew I’d have to find ways to make money from home and did a little bit of research on making money through blogging. But that wasn’t what was important to me. I was eager to walk in my truth and tell my story.

I felt called to put my creative gifts and love for communication and passion for inspiring others to the test, creating the ultimate trifecta. Writing gave me life and fulfillment and sprinkled pure joy in my days. (I pray it always will.)

What may come as a surprise, however, is that when I get the urge to write, it stops me in my tracks. My blog post ideas l i t e r a l l y come out of nowhere, and I usually have to stop what I am doing and go write. And the not-so-cool part about it is: I can’t stand writing from my phone or tablet. It MUST be on a laptop or something with keys. That I can aggressively and quickly bang (ask my new co-workers/roommates or darling husband, they will attest to my annoyingly loud typing. Bless them all for their tolerance.) But my point is, I have to get to my computer, dial up my diffuser and get busy. I’m not much of a mobile blogger much at all. Ever, really.

But y’all. I can’t help it. I just get moved to say stuffAll the feels. ALL THE JOY.

When I opened my laptop to pull up WordPress to write this post tonight, I noticed a folder on my desktop that I created a few months ago: “Things That Move Me”.

I only saved one thing in it…

Hugh Laurie

This quote says so much about my journey last year. There was so much uncertainty and many faith-based decisions. I had no idea when I started this blog what it’d lead to. I just figured I’d inconsistently write when I felt the urge. I wrote each post from the heart and was sincerely moved by each opportunity to share my journey with a friend or stranger.

Writing became my safe space. My release. My peace.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 2,220 people would view my site 3,288 times in 27 countries all over the world in just one year. Goodness gracious, am I grateful.

I’m deeply touched for each blink of an eye that my words sit between. I appreciate each kind remark and comment. It’s been an honor to share my heart with you.

To think about all that’s happened since this blog began brings me back to grace, and gratitude, and awestruck wonder. God’s led me into deeper waters. I never want to feel like I’ve arrived, but I sure do long for more.

If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that this time of year is just not my best. I battle darkness during this season each year of my life. I’m certain lots of us do. I’m thankful that things like writing and hot yoga and coffee and worship music bring me back to life on tough days.

Here is to Spring being around the corner.  But for now, may we ride the wave of this season together and keep our eyes on what we can’t see. There’s beauty there.

309 Days

Do you know what the word epiphany means? Lots of us have heard it. Used it. But do you r e a l l y know? It’s an experience of sudden and striking realization. When you figure something out, almost always out of thin air, and the thought comes to you that allows you to finally piece together the puzzle.

Was the cup half full? Or was it half empty?

It doesn’t really matter, because the cup was refillable…

It had been 309 days. That’s how long I lasted as a stay-at-home-Mom.

I started this post on December 5th and it hasn’t been touched since then. I started writing it the night before I went back to work as I laid in bed. I fell asleep without finishing it. Since then, I’ve often thought about what I would write when I picked it back up again.

And in my mind, I honestly didn’t have a strong pull for what direction this post should even go next. Should I write about how incredible my new job is? How it was the first job posting I read on that cold Sunday November afternoon (just days after deciding to go back to work) and when I read through the job description, I felt deep in my bones that it was meant for me? And how I got so excited about getting called for an interview, that I took my kids for ice cream before dinner?

Or should I write about the guilt part? The part about feeling invisible on many of my days as a SAHM, or the part about feeling guilty for feeling like I need to be seen in the first place?

The reason why I was hung up on finishing this blog post was because the part I was meant to tell in this story hadn’t happened yet…

As I rocked Everly to sleep tonight, in our favorite spot in the house, I started to cry. I could hear her tiny snore and closed my eyes as I rested my lips on the top of her head. The smell of her fresh bath, the limp weight of her sleeping body against my chest. I didn’t want to put her down.

It was tonight that I became overwhelmed with gratitude for the days I had with her. For all the afternoons we had together as we walked to school to pick up Sadler from Kindergarten.

For all the musical story times in the park we got to attend with Mr. Pete, and for all the fun Costco trips, eating samples and smiling at strangers.

It was tonight that I realized how much more engaged I’ve felt with my girls since I went back to work. I felt it the very first night; I remember that first night vividly. I couldn’t stop smiling. I remember noticing that I looked more at the details of their faces.

It was tonight that I recalled the moment I had my epiphany, and how I’d come to realize that my time home with my girls gave them more quantity time with me, but certainly not more quality time. I had allowed myself to become a martyr to my home, my chores, my expectations as a wife, my role as a mother. I wasn’t happy, and I was in denial about it.

It was tonight that I realized how grateful I am for every experience I had last year. For every bit of perspective that was gained. For every book that was read. For every new person that I met. For every old friend that I reconnected with, and for every (sometimes) long winded phone conversation. For e v e r y s i n g l e minute I shared with my children. For every essential oil class I taught. For MOPS. For it all –I am, and will forever be grateful.

It was tonight that I smiled when I thought to myself, “I love my new job.” I am grateful for the wonderful people I work with and for the deep level of engagement each of my co-workers pours into in their roles. I love the energy in our office and that everyone has a good sense of humor. I love that I’m connected again with my property management family, and that I’ve met so many kind people on our site teams and in our corporate office. And although its been less than sixty days, I feel like I’ve worked there for months.

It was tonight that I acknowledged the rhythm that my husband and I seem to have found. The parenting balance that seems to feel a little gentler, a little more predictable, a little more whole.

It was tonight that I acknowledged never to take another day for granted, and that something as simple as a lunch break with adults five days a week can make you feel like a real human again.

There really is so much I could say about this new chapter in my story, and how the pages even turned to this point in the first place. If you had told me a mere season ago that I’d be back at work by year end, I would have probably rolled my eyes, and maybe even debated with you.

I will forever remember 2017 as the year I “woke up”. The year I grew closer to God and slowed down. The year I deepened in spirit and the veil was lifted. The year that I came alive to the awareness of what it means to truly be in your life path and followed my spiritual GPS. The year I gained wisdom of the power of the spoken word, learned the critical importance of gratitude, meditation, and how to better take care of my body.

And, most importantly, it was the year I had the privilege of being at home with my children. To be a Mama. To be a part of their every day, from start to finish. Every good day, every bad day. Every new experience, every memory, every adventure. We had an incredible year together and it’s one I will remember for the rest of my life.

My heart is full tonight.

I’ve got all the feels.

I chose joy then, and there isn’t a doubt I still do. Every day.

Balance.

Day four of Kindergarten is in the books. Sadler couldn’t be happier right now in these moments of her life.

 I’ve had all the feels this week about this whole starting school thing.

Filling out the form, using only 5 words to describe my only 5-year-old…my baby. I had never truly thought of words to describe her before. Just last week as we rode in the car, Reid and I gave our input on who we saw our daughter to be; I was filling in her name, and her strengths and weaknesses, and her “hot buttons”. It was heartwarming to come up with the best five words that we thought described our girl, together: STRONG-WILLED, KIND, TENDERHEARTED, LEADER, INTELLIGENT.

As I wrote the words in the paper, I began to cry. Who were we talking about here? Sadler, or me?

It’s so hard as a parent (at least for me at this place in my journey) when you see things in your children, qualities about them, similarities in their behavior, predictability in how they’ll answer questions…and you feel like you’re looking in the mirror.

I’ve coming to learn and accept that I am my own best teacher, but this little girl runs a real tight second. She teaches me things about myself, and I try to teach her things about herself because I just know how she sees life. Sometimes it’s as if we share the same eyes.

She speaks my language. She gets me and I get her. I feel so incredibly lucky that she is mine. 

But I want her to find her way in her way. I don’t ever want to be a tug of influence, but rather a beam of guidance that just leads her there, on her own.

She’s a 1. I’m a 1, too. 

So I know for her, it can seem like we are the only ones with the only way. Our hearts are protected yet open, and our ideas are bigger than us it seems. Yet we know we can always push harder. 

It’s been a struggle this week. Finding balance between being a good stay-at-home-mom and a servant leader/CEO to my newly-blossoming essential oil business. Can’t I do both?

Time-blocking. When I have (let’s be real, when I make) the time to actually block the time. It happens sometimes. We’ll call it 50 percent.

Meditating (actually just discovered Light Sourcing by Rebecca Campbell in her INCREDIBLE BOOK, “Light is the New Black”). My mornings have become my favorite time of the day for more reasons than this one. 

Hot yoga when I have someone to watch the girls (aka – when Reid gets home from work or really early on Saturday mornings). I’d go every single day if it were possible. It’s my sanctuary. 

  Lots of oils. I love and find comfort in knowing than whenever things get heavy, I can count on my oils for safety and solace. They usually change the game for me so profoundly that I’m moved to tell someone or make a Facebook live video about my experience. 

Affirmations. Written on a whiteboard, to be repeated each morning. Out loud. Because I know the power of the spoken word. 

Lots of deep personal development through books. Mindset transformations about money and budgeting.  Journaling.

I’m doing so many of the things. I’ve created so many positive habits. Yet, I still find myself feeling out of balance. 

Unsteady. Ungrounded. 

Flailing. 

I’m learning to soften into who I am. We all need to. 

I’m so worried about getting it all done that I can’t lose sight of what I’m doing it all for. 

I’ve prayed for answers for quite some time now. Shortly after (and sometimes during), I look up to see a squirrel balancing along the power line right in front of me. It’s like he comes out of thin air. I see that as God telling me to keep my footing, just one in front of the other. Slow and steady. 

Because as the old Chinese proverb goes, “Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still.”

Reflections: Motherhood for Me

Something salpingitis. That’s what I remember my doctor saying to me. She was young like me, so the tears in her eyes as she told me made sense to me. But I still didn’t understand. Having children on my own would be very difficult because my fallopian tubes were blocked? I’m sorry, what do you mean exactly? I remember getting in the car and sobbing. We knew we wanted to have a family, and we had already discussed adoption if it truly wasn’t in our plan to have our own children. But I was devastated to think of the possibility.

God proved that doctor wrong and we became pregnant with Sadler in 2011. When we found out we were pregnant, I will never forget the way that I felt. I felt happier and more excited than ever before! I quickly became washed with the gift of motherhood and made my body a temple to prepare for the precious child God would bless us with.

We wanted a boy. I really wanted a boy. I even knew what I wanted to name him. I remember being in the tiny ultrasound room, my parents and Reid’s parents circled the room as we all patiently waited for the technician to tell us. When she said it was a girl…I wept. I think to this day everyone in the room except for my husband thought I was weeping tears of joy. In reality, the tears were fear and disappointment. I felt guilty for being sad that it wasn’t a boy. But deep down, I feared I wouldn’t know how to be a mother to a girl. My mother and I didn’t have the closest of relationships throughout my life, and while I love my mother dearly and am thankful for the journey we rode because it has undoubtedly led me to who and what I am today — I was scared.

Sadler Mae was born on July 12, 2012 via cesarean because she was breach. Her umbilical cord prolapsed while I was being prepped for delivery and what was a normal procedure turned into an emergency situation in the blink of an eye. My husband was still in the hall being scrubbed in when they made the incision to get her out. The anesthesia hadn’t fully kicked in. I wanted my husband’s hand to hold. I wanted his eyes to look into. Within a few seconds, he stood before me, and I don’t think either of us was breathing. We just locked eyes and cried as the doctors and nurses worked to get Sadler out of my body. She was lodged under my ribcage and it took lots of force and unexpected positioning to get her out. And then, the sweetest most anticipated sound my ears ever did wait to hear. She cried. And I breathed. And my life was changed forever.

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In January of 2015 I turned 33 and for a birthday gift, someone very special to me took me to see a spiritual advisor. I had been to one once before as a teenager, and honestly didn’t know what to expect as we walked in. One of the things that came up during our conversation was whether or not I would be blessed with another child. Reid and I knew we wanted another child, and I really still wanted to have a son. I had dreamt of my baby Dax. I had seen his face before and held him in my arms. So when I told this to the spiritual advisor that day, I felt the look in her eye but wouldn’t fully understand until a few months later. She gently smiled and told me that “soon enough” I would be pregnant again and reminded me to be patient with God’s plan.

I found out I was pregnant with another baby girl in June of 2015 and Everly Jean was born on December 27. She and I rocked out an amazing vaginal delivery, which was something I wanted more than I even realized until it actually happened. It was intense and long and difficult and painful. But there is no doubt in my mind that the second this child exited my body and joined our family earth side, a spiritual gate opened within my soul and my life became bright with colors I’d never seen before.

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I’ve thought often about my conversation with the spiritual advisor that day, and after connecting the dots in some of my own intuition I now believe that we did get our baby Dax. He was living inside me at some point in my life. However, God had Everly held for us and she was waiting. It wasn’t in the plan for baby Dax to be mine on Earth. But it was most certainly his divine plan to give me Everly.

I am weeping as I type this, because I am filled with so much emotion through this realization. We often think we have it all figured out, but we are small in the grand scheme of everything. God has a bigger plan for us all, and doctor’s don’t know everything. Life is a gift and a miracle.

 

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I will celebrate being a mother every day that I’m alive. I enjoyed a beautiful Mother’s Day weekend with my two daughters and husband picking strawberries and just loving on each other. It’s the little things that reset my perspective of my purpose. I’m grateful for these moments.

Amen. Namaste.

img_1134-1I grew up in church. It was a Southern Baptist church; the pews were wooden with fabric cushion. The hymnals were blue, and they were sporadically placed along the backs of each pew in attached wooden shelves. There were little pencils in little holes next to bigger little holes that were there to hold your communion cup. There were cards for first-time guests to fill out, and there were envelopes for tithing.

Church was a place we just automatically went. My great-grandparents and/or grandparents generally took me along with them on Wednesday nights. First we would go eat at either K&W or the O’Henry Grill, and then I would go to the Youth service while they went in “big church”. I remember being shy in youth group because I was so little in comparison to the “big” kids.

I remember years before that attending Vacation Bible School and making crafts out of popsicle sticks and coloring pictures with Bible verses written on them. I remember being in a play as a 7-year-old and thinking I was the coolest kid on the planet because I was acting. I remember around this same time, singing a solo on Sunday morning and being terrified when the time came in the music for me to start, and instead of singing I ran straight off the stage and into my cousin Sissy’s lap as tears rolled down my cheeks. I remember lots of softball games on Friday nights watching my dad play. I remember covered dish lunches in the Fellowship Hall and that I always had to find what Mama Dot or Granny brought because I knew it was likely one of my favorites. I remember laying across Mama Dot’s lap during the church sermon and getting some of the best back scratches the world’s ever known. I remember being baptized by Pastor Bud and even remember what I wore that day.

I have lots of memories of church growing up, but none of them really include much about God. As I grew into an adult, I drifted away from the familiar place church offered me and my family. I found myself choosing sleep over sermons on Sunday mornings, often to nurse a hangover or just catch up from being exhausted. People in the church “family” started to ask questions. Gossip set in. My parents (finally) divorced. My life fell apart… and church didn’t make the cut for what was important to me at that time.

As I went off to college, not much changed. I made good grades, held sometimes two jobs at a time while taking a full-load of courses at NC State. I made some great friends – some of whom are my very dearest friends today – but church and God wasn’t something that was talked about much in my circle of friends. If it was, I don’t remember. Which only tells me it wasn’t impactful if it did indeed happen.

Almost a year to the day after I graduated from college in December 2006, I went on the first date with my husband. We had known each other since 1994 but never dated throughout high school. Our first date turned into moving in together, which turned into engagement and marriage and 2 beautiful daughters. But at first, church wasn’t something we did together. It wasn’t something we did apart. It wasn’t anything that we even talked about — at first.

We would go to church with my grandparents for the Easter service once in a while, and I recall attending his niece’s christening about 7 years ago. But we didn’t have a church that we attended regularly and we didn’t spend a great deal of time talking about our plans to change that. We were content in our lives with what we had and what we were doing and who we spent our time with. We didn’t pray. We didn’t talk about God. We just lived our lives.

It wasn’t until this past Fall that I made the connection. I decided to read a book called The Power of Now that was a turning-point in my life. This book talked about being present in each moment that we are living and breathing, and to actually pay attention to each breath that we take; it was a reminder to “stop and smell the roses” sometimes. This book was so much more for me than I can even begin to describe here… I remember not being able to put it down, and I had not read a book from start to finish in almost a decade. I remember wanting to tell everyone about it, and I tried. But I quickly learned that it was not something everyone wanted to hear. Not everyone wants to hear about a riveting self-help book that I read. Have you lost your mind, Candice? was the translation of the look on their faces when I shared it with some friends and loved ones. But that’s just the thing, I felt just the opposite: almost as if I had found my mind. Or at least myself.

I have been visiting an incredible hot yoga studio for about a year now and was able to relate to the points the author made about paying attention to your breath. Each time I would go to yoga after reading this book, I found myself channeling deeper into my awareness of my breath, and it became easier each time. I started noticing my breathing while at home sitting on the couch or cooking dinner. I started to notice when I had found my innermost feelings of peace and stillness. I noticed and embraced the quiet in my mind and in my body. I was thankful for the yoga teachers I have been led by in my practice as of late who have reminded me to just breathe.

I realized that the feeling I felt of warmth and white: that was God. And it was then that I began to connect the dots between my version of universe God and church God.  I realized that they were one in the same. I realized that the inner stillness I had found and recently tapped into was God within me. I started to literally see things differently, with more color, and with more appreciation of the beauty within everything around me. Once a lens that only reflected black and white images, I now see so much color.

Toward the end of last year, we visited a new church and my heart was open to accept everything that it had to offer. I found my inner stillness and peace and tears streamed down my face as my sweet friend poured her heart out through song on the stage. The walls were black, the lights were dark and the spirit of God was in that room. I was so moved. I was inspired to keep digging within to find God within me, and I am happy to say we’ve been back several Sunday mornings since this fist visit and not much has changed. Same tears. Same stillness and peace. Same good music that makes me cry every.single.time.

This week marks the one-year-anniversary of my return to work after maternity leave when Everly was born. Only one year ago I was in such a different place spiritually and emotionally. I couldn’t (wouldn’t) even engage in conversation with you about God. I didn’t want to. I was going through the motions to earn a paycheck and daydreamed about what life would be like in another version of it. I looked happy, but I wasn’t. I knew there was so much more to be gained but couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

Today I am happy to tell you that I fully accept that I am nothing without God. He is at work within me and I rest my case in arguing that I have a better way to do this. I am at full mercy of  letting go of fear and worry and anxiety in order to live fulfilled and am in awe of what God has planned for me. I start each day with personal time devoted to my relationship with God and appreciate the difference it has made in my life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”      

Proverbs 3:5-6

I hope and pray that I may always be able to stay mindful of something as simple as breathing. I pray that I can teach my girls to slow down and enjoy life each day rather than being busy in the process. May you find the color in your world and see it brightly. Namaste. And, Amen.